Though the Race Staff makes our best attempt to be educated on the running world, up to date on training trends and workouts, and the logistics that go into making a flawless race event, it is nearly impossible for us to delve into the highly motivational personal stories of each and every runner; what got them to this point, and even more importantly, what inspires them to cross the finish line. Every year, we are so touched by the personal stories that runners occasionally share with us, whether they are hitting a milestone race, a first time marathoner, or a personal favorite of mine- selflessly pushing themselves for a cause near and dear to their hearts, oftentimes all to benefit someone other than themselves.
This year, we have over 35 active military running our race. Their race bibs have been personalized with the American flag to recognize the heroic service they offer to our country. In 2013 our Race Staff has had the opportunity to become involved with Kiawah residents’ ongoing project to serve our military service men and women. Cofounded by Trux and Durbin Emerson, the Charleston Harbour House is a nonprofit organization working to provide a comfortable refuge for families of patients at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. Unbeknownst to many, in South Carolina alone there are over 400,000 veterans living amongst us. Located in downtown Charleston, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center serves more than 53,000 of these Veterans from the South Carolina and Georgia coastline. Acute medical, surgical, and psychiatric inpatient care, as well as outpatient primary and mental health care is offered to Lowcountry Veterans who require more than 659,000 outpatient visits and approximately 4,300 inpatient stays annually. What some may seldom think about is where the families of these Veterans stay while their loved ones are in the hospital. With the high cost of hospitality options in the Charleston area in mind, the Charleston Harbour House project was created to raise funds to build a housing facility for these military veterans and their families while they receive care. Similar to the Ronald McDonald House charity, this project attempts to benefit those battling illness or injury by having family close by and actively participating in the recovery process.
To bring awareness to this important cause, as we did for the Kiawah Triathlon, all Marathon staff and volunteer shirts have proudly been donned with the Harbour House logo. But more importantly, there will also be a runner on the course proudly running to bring awareness to the mission, Durbin Emerson. To try to encapsulate all of Durbin’s time, effort, trials, and tribulations of raising funds and maintaining the ongoing project would be nearly impossible. But for those of us that recognize this woman’s valiant heart, we encourage you to offer a word of thanks and a little “push” to get this first time half-marathon runner across to the finish line. After all, it is for those that give the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe that Durbin works so tirelessly to fight for. And for all those that run for such special causes, may we always keep the words of the famed cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead in our minds, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”